Issue 14 -- February 2001 Editor: Elizabeth Ferris

A Newsletter of the Ecumenical Network of churches in solidarity with people compelled by severe political, economic and social conditions to leave their land and cultures.

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Network News

International News in Brief

National News in Brief

Upcoming Meetings


Uprooted people are those who are forced to leave their communities: those who flee because of persecution and war, those who are forcibly displaced because of environmental devastation and those who are compelled to seek sustenance in a city or abroad because they cannot survive at home... World Council of Churches policy statement, 1995.

If you would like Uprooted People to be sent to you by e-mail, contact Elizabeth Ferris.

CORRECTION: The last issue of Uprooted People reported on a the "National Seminar On Internally Displaced People held in India last year. Unfortunately, the name of the organizer, the Ecumenical Christian Centre, Bangalore was inadvertently omitted from the story.

Network News

The Central Committee of the World Council of Churches met in Berlin, Germany from 30 January to 6 February. Perhaps the high point of the meeting was the launch of the "Decade to Overcome Violence: Churches seeking Peace and Reconciliation." During the next ten years, churches worldwide are challenged to address the violence in their communities. An ecumenical worship service, an opening ceremony featuring a Brazilian ballet and a South African street theatre group, and a candelight march to Brandenburg Gate marked the day-long launch of the decade. Deliberative plenary sessions in the Central Committee meeting focused on reconciliation in Europe, globalization, efforts of the German churches to carry out mission in a secular society, and the Decade to Overcome Violence. There was considerable discussion during the committee on a document on the protection of endangered populations in situations of armed violence which the Central Committee commended to the churches for study and reflection (copies available from WCC.) Prior to the Central Committee meeting, WCC’s Executive Committee adopted a statement on uprooted people which challenges churches to do more to respond to the needs of refugees, migrants and internally displaced. A copy of the statement is attached to this newsletter. Other public statements adopted by the Central Committee include a "Study Document on the Protection of Endangered Populations in Situations of Armed Violence: Toward an Ecumenical Ethical Approach," a statement on "Nuclear Disarmament, NATO Policy and the Churches" and a Statement on the "Situation in Sudan" and shorter minutes on the Holy Land, Colombia, Cyprus and Indonesia. These are all available on the WCC website:

The Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance was established at a Founding Meeting held in Geneva from 7-9 December. The Founding Meeting brought together representatives of WCC, Roman Catholic organizations, international ecumenical organizations, Christian World Communions, church-related agencies and specialized ecumenical networks. Participants in the meeting agreed on a light, coordinating structure for the Alliance and agreed to focus on two global issues - HIV/AIDS and global trade - in the coming three years. A small Ecumenical Advocacy Office has been established in the Ecumenical Center in Geneva and the coordinator, Linda Hartke, took up her position on 1 February. To obtain more information about the Alliance or to indicate interest in working on one or both of the issues, contact

The Continental Committee on Uprooted People of the All Africa Conference of Churches met in Banjul, Gambia in mid-December 2000. Participants in the meeting reviewed the churches’ engagement with uprooted people in the region, the work of the four sub-regional groups, and devoted considerable attention to analyzing the deteriorating situation in West Africa. Concern was also expressed about the declining financial resources available to church-related programmes serving the uprooted in Africa. As the meeting took place in Gambia, participants were also concerned about changes in the country’s national election commission which was set up to oversee elections in 2001.

Participants in the Amman process met in Beirut, Lebanon from 12-14 January. This meeting brings together representatives from church-related organizations in the Middle East and Southern Europe to analyze together the situation of migration in the Mediterranean region. At this year’s meeting, participants shared information about why people are migrating from the Middle East to Europe, about the way in which they are received in Europe and about possibilities for their return to their home countries. Participants agreed on three main priorities for action in the coming year: raising awareness among the churches of the importance of working inter-regionally on migration issues within the Mediterranean region, including collecting stories of migrants’ experiences; becoming more active in advocacy with a particular focus on the need to offer counseling for voluntary repatriation to the Middle East; and strengthening the Amman process itself. The meeting established two small working groups, one to develop a common project for voluntary return and reintegration and the other to develop a common project on migration counseling. The group agreed that next year’s meeting will be held in Brussels to enable participants in the Amman process to understand better how the European Union is dealing with these issues.

The fourth General Assembly of the Latin American Council of Churches (CLAI) included a workshop on "human rights, migration, and displaced persons." The workshop focused on displacement in Colombia of and the particular effects of mega-economic projects, drug trafficking, the on-going political violence, and Plan Colombia. and displacement. Churches in Colombia and in neighboring countries have developed temporary shelters for displaced people and are creating networks between countries to support people who must flee their communities because of increasing threats.

The Southeast Europe Ecumenical Partnership of the World Council of Churches in association with Action by Churches Together (ACT) organized a meeting of the ‘Hub’ for Return, Repatriation and Integration in Banja Luka, Bosnia-Hercegovina in November 2000. With the support of International Orthodox Christian Charities and Philanthropy (the humanitarian organization of the Serbian Orthodox Church), participants in the meeting reviewed the actual possibilities for the return of refugees and displaced populations in Serbia, Montenegro, Kosovo, Bosnia and Hercegovina and Croatia. The meeting identified specific needs to enable the displaced persons to return, including care and maintenance, integration and resettlement, return preparation, return process, reconstruction, sustainability, and reconciliation. The group then identified organizations who are well-placed to provide the needed support. The Southeast Europe Ecumenical Partnership seeks to strengthen coordination, cooperation and a closer linkage between relief, reconciliation and sustainable development/diakonia among churches and related ecumenical partners in Southeast Europe. In addition to the ‘hub’ on refugee return, the Partnership has established two additional hubs which focus on capacity-building and on peace and reconciliation. In each of the hubs, a lead organization has been identified.

The Conference of European Jesuit Provincials voiced concern at the "increasingly harsh attitude" of European governments, expressing particular anxiety at the detention of asylum-seekers and migrants. "We call on governments to open up more generous legal possibilities for people to enter Europe," the Provincials said in their 5 December statement. While conceding the difference "between those fleeing for their lives and those fleeing poverty," the Provincials stressed that "fleeing poverty is legitimate and deserves a response both in the long-term through the promotion of well-oriented aid to developing countries and in the short-term, some compassionate response to individuals arriving from those country. The provincials said it was vital that the 360,000 asylum applications received by EU states in 1999 were seen in the perspective of a world-wide estimate of 50 million displaced people.

The National Council of Churches in Australia (NCCA) has urged the Minister for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs to make widespread changes ino Australia’s immigration programme to meet the humanitarian neeeds of refugees. While recognizing Australia’s need to import skilled and business migrants to fill gaps in the labour market, the NCCA says that it should not be at the expense of humanitarian cases or family reunions. NCCA has called on Australia to fulfill its international obligation of "burden-sharing" by properly responding to the plight of refugees. To rectify the situation, the NCCA has urged the Minister to allocate unfilled places in the migration visa quota to the Humanitarian Program, and advocated the de-linking of the ‘onshore’ and ‘offshore’ refugee quotas. Regarding the composition of the humanitarian program, the NCCA advocates for an increase in the visa quota for refugees from Sudan, Sierra Leone and other African countries while drawing attention to the plight of refugees from Burma, Indonesia and Sri Lanka. For more information, see NCCA’s website:

In another action, the National Council of Churches of Australia has condemned as a "scandal" recent events which took place in a detention centre for illegal immigrants in remote South Australia. The open letter calls on the federal government to immediately improve methods of dealing with children in detention following reports that a 12-year old body was sexually abused in the Woomera detention center. People arriving by boat are automatically detained while their cases are assessed, a process that can take months or years. At present Australia’s six detention centers, most of them located in remote areas, hold 1780 people of whom 247 are children. The Woomera detention centre is run under contract to the federal government by Australasian Correctional Management (ACM) a subsidiary of the giant US prison company, Wackenhut corporation. Archbishop Ian George, chair of the NCCA’s Christian World Service Commission, said that when inmates were released they were "dumped" in busloads in the capital cities with only A$150 (US$82) and that churches, welfare groups and ethnic communities struggled to provide the necessary accommodation, job-seeking assistance and support. "Once again, we are left to try and pickup what should be a responsibility of government." He said. (ENI, 18 December 2000).

International News In Brief

Ruud Lubbers assumed his position as UN High Commissioner for Refugees in January 2001 and met with NGOs shortly after taking up his position. At this meeting with the International Council of Voluntary Agencies (ICVA), NGO representatives encouraged him to strengthen UNHCR’s role in protection and made a number of specific suggestions for doing so. In response to a question about UNHCR’s position vis-à-vis European governments on asylum, Mr. Lubbers said that he was prepared to confront governments which did not provide adequate protection to asylum-seekers even though these governments were major donors of UNHCR.

Plans for UNHCR’s Global Consultations on Protection have progressed considerably with four types of meetings scheduled: regional meetings, roundtables of experts on specific points of interpretation of refugee law, four sessions of the global consultations with governments (and NGOs as observers) and an inter-governmental event to be held in December 2001 in Geneva. A draft calendar for the Global Consultations are attached to this newsletter. The first substantive meeting of the Global Consultations will be held on 8-9 March in Geneva. The International Council of Voluntary Agencies (ICVA) is coordinating NGO input into these consultations and will be distributing preparatory materials. To receive this information as it becomes available, contact Simon Russell at

In December 2000, the United Nations released its Consolidated inter-agency Appeals (known as CAPS). These CAPS pool estimates of needs by all UN agencies involved in humanitarian response in the most affected countries. Increasingly the CAPS include direct reference to programmes planned by NGOs and the Red Cross. The appeal focuses on Southeast Europe ($430 million); Democratic Republic of the Congo ($140 million), Chechnya ($44 million), Indonesia ($12million), Burundi ($102 million) and Tanzania ($110 million.) Slightly more than half of the $2.1 billion in CAP appeals for 2000 were funded as of November. Of the $1.2 billion received for 2000 appeals, half was given for emergency food aid transported by the World Food Programme. Countries that have poor media image, like Afghanistan and the Democratic Republic of Congo, have received the lowest levels of funding as a percentage of estimates in recent years. In December UNHCR complained that while their budget for well-watched areas such as Kosovo achieve 90% of funding, their Africa programs only garner 60%. (The Humanitarian Times, 19 December 2000)

Also in December 2000, UNHCR announced that it needs $953.7 million in 2001 to assist and protect more than 22 million people of concern. The largest single portion of UNHCR’s global appeal - more than $255 million - is destined for the agency’s work in sub-Saharan Africa. The budget for the agency’s work in the Balkans is nearly $139 million. At the launch of the funding appeal, on 14 December, donor governments pledged $214.7 million, approximately one-fourth of the total. Inadequate funding of UNHCR programmes in 2000 led to serious cutbacks in UNHCR’s activities in the field. Many NGOs were affected by budget cuts late in the year - after programmes had been started.

On December 14, UNHCR commemorated its 50th anniversary with a campaign focusing on "Respect" which highlights the potential of refugees. A gala performance by refugees and a candelight ceremony along the Rhone River marked the event in Geneva. As part of the commemoration, UNHCR as launched a "Gallery of Prominent Refugees" on its website which showcases refugees or former refugees who have achieved special status within a community. In recognition of the importance of education to refugees, UNHCR used the 50th anniversary to launch the Refugee Education Trust, an independent fund created to provide post-primary education to young refugees in developing countries. For more information, see

The first World Refugee Day will be celebrated on 20 June 2001. In the United States, the US National Park Service and UNHCR will mark the event with a spectacular light and sound show at the Statue of Liberty. Churches in many parts of the world have commemorated Refugee Sunday on the Sunday closest to 20 June; this date was chosen by the churches to commemorate the Sharpeville massacre in South Africa.

The UN Secretary-General announced in December his appointment of Kenzo Oshima as Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief. Mr. Oshima, currently serving as Secretary-General of the Secretariat for International Peace Cooperation Headquarters in the office of the Japanese Prime Minister, is a career diplomat whose previous postings included service at the Japanese Permanent Mission to the United Nations. He will take up his office in mid-January. His predecessor, Sergio Viera de Mello, will remain in East Timor as the Secretary-General’s Special Representative.

The Uruguayan government has acceded to the 1990 Convention on Migrants Rights. The total of States parties to the convention is now 16, with 10 additional signatory states. A total of 20 States parties are needed for it to enter into force. The Steering Committee for the Campaign for the Ratification of the Convention met in Geneva in February to plan a strategy for advocating ratification with governments. There is a particular concern that countries which receive large numbers of migrants should also ratify the Convention. For an updated chart with the list of states parties and signatory states, see

The International Organization of Migration has announced a new initiative on Migration Policy and Research to be established this year. This new initiative will enable IOM to play a more active role in research and analysis of global migration trends.

The UN Crime Commission finished negotiations in October on a new international treaty to combat trafficking. The new Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons contains strong law enforcement provisions and the first-ever international definition of ‘trafficking in persons.’ However, it does not require governments to provide any services to trafficked persons. According to the Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women (press release, December 2000), governments were aided in their efforts to avoid discussion of the need for mandatory protections by a "drawn-out and unnecessary debate" over the definition of trafficking. Governments were apparently unwilling to distinguish between trafficking and smuggling because it means governments are prepared to treat victims of trafficking in the same manner as they treat undocumented migrants: detain and/or punish an deport them. This will make it more difficult for NGOs to advocate for national legislation which provides services to victims of traffickers and NGOs will have to continue to fill the vacuum left by the protocol. Equally disturbing, traffickers will continue to operate with impunity because, without victims willing to identify traffickers, many traffickers will never come to the attention of officials and prosecutions will be difficult.

National News in Brief

  • Africa
    Jesuit Refugee Service (Dispatches No. 68) reports that 164 Congolese of Rwandan origin arrived in Rwanda after they were sent out of Congo and later rejected as Rwandans in Kigali. In June 2000, some 800 Congolese people of Rwandan ethnic origin living in Kinshasa were placed in a camp for security reasons. They are living in very basic conditions in Rwanda. As the JRS report says, "This group of Congolese people have been rejected as Congolese by the Congo government and as Rwandans by the government of Rwanda."

    The war between Ethiopia and Eritrea came to an end in mid-December when the two governments signed a peace treaty. The agreement establishes a 25 kilometer security zone, 4,000+ UN military monitors (from Canada and the Netherlands), prisoner exchange and continuing discussions to define a common border. The treaty does not resolve Ethiopia’s need for access to an ocean port. Since 1998, the war between Ethiopia and Eritrea killed an estimated 80,000 people and displaced many others.

    Several operations in Tanzania’s Kibondo district have been severely curtailed or suspended altogether as a result of UNHCR funding problems. Jesuit Refugee Service reports that "in Kibondo, many important activities are either continuing at a reduced rate or have been suspended since October 2000. Fuel has been cut by 50 percent, soap distribution to refugees has been suspended, and all construction and training programmes have been cancelled." Meanwhile new arrivals from Burundi to Kibondo continue to come at the rate of about 100 people a day. (JRS Dispatches, no. 85)

    Refugees and immigrants from African contries living in Du Noon, a settlement outside Capetown, South Africa, have been told by the local community that they must leave. The announcement follows xenophobic violence in the area where at least one person was killed. The violence began in early January when residents accused foreigners of taking their wives and jobs and of being involved in crime. About 100 foreigners, some with their South African spouses, spent the night outside a police station. A committee set up to resolve the matter failed to dissuade the residents.

    The Senior Inter-Agency Network on Internal Displacement visited Burundi in December 2000 with the objective of assessing the needs of the internally displaced population and the operational capacity of the UN and other agencies on the ground. The mission, composed of representatives of UN agencies and one non-governmental organization found that the protection needs of the IDPs were many and generally not met by the humanitarian community. Lack of safe access to vulnerable populations due to the precarious security situation was noted as a major obstacle. The mission also found the lack of a clear strategy or even a consensus among all actors over what should be their priorities and principles. The Senior Inter-Agency Network plans additional missions over the course of the next 6-9 months.

  • Australia
    In Australia, a subcommittee of parliament has begun a series of visits to detention facilities for asylum-seekers which have come under increasing criticism from Australian NGOs and from abroad. Gathering information on detainees has been difficult. Despite frequent requests, few NGOs or individuals have been granted access to the detention facilities or the detainees. Christian World Service has commended the parliamentary visit and circulated to the visiting parliamentarians a list of key questions that it felt should be asked of the detainees and administrators. For example, the Australian Minister for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs, Philip Ruddock had reportedly restated his argument that it would be easier for staff to control asylum-seekers by using sedatives and anti-depressants. CWS thus urged parliamentary observers to ask "under what circumstances have injections and physical measures been used in this detention centre?" (Unity, weekly news summary no. 243, 3 February 2001, available at

    The controversial Australian Minister of Immigration, Philip Ruddock recently made a 15-day tour in the Middle East and Europe to warn of the dangers and bad conditions facing would-be migrants to Australia. An information kit planned for distribution by Mr. Ruddock warns that illegal immigrants coming to Australia face the threat of racial violence, prostitution, drug use and family violence. This description follows the production of a video last year portraying Australia as infested with deadly sharks, snakes and crocodiles to deter boat people. The latest kit warns that illegal immigrants "face racial hatred and violence because citizens are angry at having to support them... they end up living in slums, and depend on begging and crime to survive... they lose control of their children who abandon their traditional values for modern Western culture." Given the controversy over the information in the kit, Mr. Ruddock’s spokesperson said that material for the kits was being re-drafted and would not be distributed in the Middle East.

  • Europe
    A new immigration law in Spain severely limits the fundamental rights of undocumented migrants. The law, which came into force on 23 January, has provoked demonstrations and hunger strikes by immigrants. Under the new law, irregular migrants are to be expelled within 48 hours (previously they would have had to pay a fine.) The new law denies them the right to hold demonstrations and the right to association, including membership of trade unions. The Spanish government has a bilateral repatriation accord with Morocco and is currently developing agreements with Nigeria, Colombia, Ecuador, Dominican Republic, Romania, Poland and Senegal to deport irregular migrants.

    Human Rights Watch reports that the draft immigration bill under consideration by the Greek parliament violates migrants’ rights and threatens refugee protection. The human rights group criticizes the bill for the absence of an anti-discrimination clause; violating the right to family reunification; failing to address trafficking of migrants and special protections for women migrants trafficked for forced prostitution; failing to acknowledge the fundamental human rights of undocumented migrants; denying undocumented migrant children access to education and health care; lacking a provision prohibiting the arbitrary detention of migrants awaiting deportation who cannot return to their home countries; failing to include a provision against collective expulsion; including public and private sector sanctions against those assisting migrants; and supporting sanctions on carriers for transporting migrants. For more information, see

    Human Rights Watch also issued a report documenting conditions at the Attica General Police Directorate for foreigners in Greece, finding that the detainees lived in conditions of severe overcrowding, and lacked access to fresh air or exercise, adequate sleeping accommodations, adequate food and adequate access to medical care. Most detainees had been held at the center for months. The vast majority of the detainees had an administrative deportation order issued against them by the Ministry of Public Order that could not be executed immediately because their home countries could not provide required documentation in a timely manner or would not issue documents to them at all. A number of detainees had applied for asylum and were waiting for a decision or had already been rejected. For more information, see

    The International Organization for Migration (IOM) brought together Ukrainian and Greek officials in Athens to discuss ways of fighting human trafficking and assisting victims. Currently Greece has an estimated 600,000 irregular migrants and those who are detected are deported back to their home country. At present, there is no special mechanism for differentiating between irregular migrants and victims of trafficking. As Greece is signatory to the UN Convention Against Organized Crime and the attendant Trafficking Protocol, trafficked women should be recognized as victims of organized crime and not as irregular migrants. This will be reinforced by a draft legislation soon to be passed by the Greek Parliament. Greece and Ukraine agreed to develop protection and assistance mechanisms for victims. (IOM Press Briefing Notes, 2 February 2001)

  • Asia
    A recent research project on trafficking in women and children, funded by IOM and OSCE/ODIHR estimates that approximately 4,000 people were trafficked from Kyrgyzstan in 1999. The research projects finds that the Kyrgyz Republic is an increasingly attractive prospect for traffickers who benefits from organized criminal networks trafficking in drugs from South Asia to the West. Businesses have been developed to traffick in women. For example, almost all newspapers run advertisements searching for "attractive young women for lucrative work abroad" and the number of such ads has increased dramatically over the past three years. In addition, 25 "tour companies" were found to provide documentation and airline tickets for women to work abroad as commercial sex workers. Marriage agencies and mail-order-bride agencies also form a part of the trafficking chain. Some 2,000 internet sites were found with connections to "women in Kyrgyzstan" with a changing inventory of hundreds of women. The report underlines that poverty is a push factor with 68% of the population earning less than US$7 per month. The United Arab Emirates, Russia, Kazakhstan, Turkey, China and Germany were the main destination countries. Human rights abuses were common amongst the women trafficked for commercial sex, with 62% saying they were forced to work without pay and 43% saying they were forced to perform unprotected sex. Over 50% reported that they had been physically abused or tortured by their employers. Two-thirds of the respondents said they were victimized by corrupt officials upon returning to Kyrgzstan.
    When I was just 19 years old I was struggling to support my young son and invalid mother. I heard that it was possible to earn a lot of money working in the United Arab Emirates so I decided to go. I traveled there with four very young Kyrgyz girls. When we got there we were all imprisoned in hotel rooms. I had to serve up to 30 men a day and never received any money at all. After one month I was arrested and imprisoned. After four months in jail I was deported back to Bishkek. I was forced to serve nearly 1,000 men and I came back to Bishkek with nothing. Copies of the report are available in English and Russian from IOM Bishkek

    New arrivals from Sri Lanka in India are being detained as soon as they arrive. In another attempt to deter refugees coming from Sri Lanka’s war zones in the north, the Indian government is detaining new arrivals in transit camp. Conditions are reportedly appalling. Meanwhile the arrest of many young Sri Lankan refugees on arrival in India continues. "India continues to arrest anyone with suspected militant links. Some youngsters were in rebel movements in Sri Lanka and they deserted the movement before fleeing the country." (JRS dispatches, no. 85)

    The US Committee for Refugees reports that more than 500,000 Afghans have been newly uprooted, that Pakistan and Tajikistan have denied entry to Afghans, that drought threatens hundreds of thousands of people in Afghanistan, and that the international response falls far short of meeting the human needs. Renewed fighting, the cumulative effects of decades of on-going conflict, and the worst drought to hit Afghanistan in some 30 years have led as many as 150,000 Afghans to flee to Pakistan and some 350,000 are internally displaced throughout the country. Pakistan’s border has been officially closed to new refugees since 9 November although some refugees have managed to enter the country. For several months Tajikistan has refused entry to some 10,000 Afghans stranded at its border, despite repeated appeals from UNHCR for Tajikistan to grant the group refuge. The Afghans are within shelling distance of Taleban fores and are living in extremely poor conditions because it is difficult for aid agencies to reach them. Iran not only refuses to permit entry to new Afghan refugees, but also pressured UNHCR into facilitating the repatriation of more than 100,000 Afghans from Iran in the year 2000. For further information or to receive the complete report, contact Hiram Ruiz at the US Committee for Refugees (

    In January 2001, the first inter-agency mission since December was finally permitted to pay a brief visit to the beleaguered Afghans on the the Tajikistan border. The mission found that the Afghans, including more than 6,000 children are living in appalling conditions. For many the only shelter has been holes in the ground covered with a flimsy roof made of reds. At least 41 people are reported to have died since October because of sickness, disease or war wounds. Many of the deaths may have been preventable if people had been able to receive hospital treatment. The refugees have no safe water, or adequate sanitation and the nearest Taliban positions are only one kilometer away.

    The Asia Pacific Mission for Migrant Filipinos denounces the recent agreement standardizing placement fees for Filipino migrants in Taiwan. According to the Mission, the agreement, signed on 29 November, legitimizes unreasonably high fees. The fees include those to paid in the Philippines (one month salary as placement fee, visa fee, air fare, medical check-up, and government fees) as well as fees to be paid to the broker in Taiwan (including traveling expenses and on/site handling fees.)

  • United States
    In one of her last acts as US Attorney General, Janet Reno voided an immigration panel’s ruling that denied political asylum to a Guatemalan woman who fled her country to escape an abusive husband. The case had become a rallying point for many women’s advocates. While acknowledging that Ms. Rodi Alvarado Pena had suffered appalling beatings at the hands of her husband, the judges hearing her appeal had said that she did not qualify for political asylum as a member of a persecuted group. The decision by Janet Reno was immediately hailed as a boon for other women who are seeking asylum in the United States on grounds that they were persecuted because of their sex. This follows the proposal in December of new regulations by the US Justice department which would recognize domestic abuse as a form of persecution, allowing victims of abuse to qualify for asylum in the US if their own government fails to protect them.

    Upcoming Meetings

    The International Catholic Migration Commission (ICMC) commemorates its 50th anniversary in 2001. The main celebration will take place around the ICMC annual Council meeting in New York City from 14-20 September 2000. Special events include a seminar at the United Nations, a gala dinner on 15 September at Ellis Island, and a Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral. A 50th Anniversary Committee has been set up to oversee the commemorations.

    The Migration Policy Group and the Institute for the Study of International Migration (Georgetown University) are organizing a Transatlantic Workshop on Highly Skilled Migration to be held from 5-6 March 2001 in Brussels. The aim of the workshop is to stimulate discussion about policies that regulate the admission of highly-skilled migrants, especially within the framework of international agreements. More information available from

    Sphere is organizing a Training of Trainers course in Geneva from 23-28 April 2001. This workshop aims to increase the dissemination and understanding of the Sphere project, the humanitarian charter and standards in providing assistance throughout the humanitarian community by creating a group of specialized trainers who are able to conduct workshops using the sphere training workshop. The workshop includes sessions on management and administration of training events, an introduction to the use of standards, the Humanitarian Charter (rights and principles), the project cycle and disaster preparedness. The workshop is intended for talented communicators from a diverse range of experiences who have pre-existing skills and experience including operational humanitarian field work, adult training and facilitation experience. To learn more, ask for the free newsletter at or consult the website at To receive an application for the workshop, contact

    Sphere is also organizing a number of training workshops in most regions of the world in the coming months, including Sierra Leone (February), Colombia, Angola, Zimbabwe (March), Indonesia (April) and Georgia (May-June), Honduras (June), Jordan (July) and Afghanistan/Pakistan (August).

    The Canadian Council for Refugees’ International Conference on Refugee Women fleeing Gender-based persecution will be held in Montreal from 4-6 May 2001. The conference will bring together refugee women, refugee rights groups, refugee decision-makers, academics, government representatives, UNHCR and others interested in ensuring that women fleeing gender-based persecution receive protection. The conference will include sessions or workshops on: the refugee definition and gender-related persecution; results of NGO advocacy to ensure protection of women fleeing gender-based persecution; gender guidelines; access to the refugee determination process; girl claimants; emerging refugee determination systems; particular issues relating to domestic violence; resettlement and gender-related persecution; internal flight alternative; credibility issues; documentation issues; availability of state protection; impact of regional agreements on women fleeing gender-based persecution; enforcement issues; and trafficking in women. For further information, contact the Canadian Council for Refugees, 6839 Drolet #302, Montreal QC H2S 2T1 Canada, e-mail:

    The Centre for Refugee Studies at York University is again offering a summer course on refugee issues, to be held in Toronto from 16-24 June 2001. This postgraduate course provides training in refugee issues for up to 50 practitioners inside and outside government who work on some aspect of refugee protection or assistance. The registration and materials fee is Can$80. For further information and registration contact Sharryn Aiken at York Uniersity, Suite 315, York Lanes, 4700 Keele Street, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M3J 1P3, e-mail:


    The International Association of Civil Aviation Airport Chaplains (ACAC) publishes a directory of international airport chaplains around the world. The directory includes a listing of airports with the names of chaplains, location of places for worship, a description of services offered and contact numbers. Many airport chaplaincies are prepared to assist asylum-seekers and migrants facing particular difficulties in transit. The directory is updated regularly and is available on-line at:

    The July 2000 issue of International Review of Mission focuses on "Open Space: the African Christian Diaspora in Europe and the Quest for Human Community." Under the guest editorship of Roswith Gerloff, the review includes 39 contributions. The process of forming a Council of African Christian Communities progresses with the next meeting of delegates to take place in Switzerland in June 2001.

    The Universidad Ponficia Comillas in Madrid, Spain, offers distance-learning courses in Spanish toward a Masters degree or a certificate as auniversity specialist in immigration. The Masters degree, has two possible specializations, ‘Legal’ or ‘Research and Social Intervention’ and can normally be achieved in one year, upon completion of 60 credits. The title of ‘university specialist in immigration’ requires a total of 25 credits. The courses are conducted by electronic communication, with modules, a webpage, chat rooms, and e-mail. In addition four in-person meetings in Madrid are necessary for the Masters degree (and two for the university specialist certificate.) For more information, contact or see the webpage at

    In December a Conference on Reproductive Health of Displaced Populations was held in Washington, DC. 250 people participated in the meeting and case studies from 22 countries were presented. For example, the International Rescue Committee found that reproductive health (maternal mortality and neonatal) accounted for more deaths (22%) among Afghan refugees in Pakistan than any other cause. The goal of the Reproductive Health for Refugees Consortium is to increase access to a broad range of quality, voluntary reproductive health services to refugees and displaced persons around the world. Proceedings will be available this month on the web: or in hard copy from

    The International Center for Migration and Health has issued a new report on "Demobilization and implications for HIV/AIDS" which finds that the impact on HIV transmission by military movements and demobilization/reintegration has been almost entirely ignored and warns that "interventions targeting non-regular forces pose particular difficuties; they are more difficult to reach and may have little incentive to participate." The report points to the disparity that HIV infected military personnel stand to receive dramatically better health care by staying in the military than by reinsertion into civilian life, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa (the focus of this report) where HIV care remains under-funded. The report is available from

    Human Rights Watch has published its World Report 2001 which covers events of 2000. The comprehensive report includes reports on countries around the world as well as a section on special issues and campaigns, including refugees, asylum-seekers and internally displaced persons. The book represents a comprehensive overview of human rights violations around the world and is an invaluable resource for those needing information quickly. Available from Human Rights Watch in New York (350 Fifth Ave, 34th floor, New York, NY 10118-3299 USA), London (33 Islington High Street, N1 9LH London, UK) or Brussels (15 Rue Van Campenhout, 1000 Brussels, Belgium) or from the website:

    The Migration Policy Group has published The Management and Managers of Immigration by Jan Niessen. The study includes a discussion of the role of governments, employers’ organisations and trade unions, and immigrants and support organisations in formulating immigration policy. The study focuses on Europe and the reasons why governments should adopt immigration policies and explains the various rules governing EU immigration policies. Available from Migration Policy Group, 205 Rue Belliard, Box 1, 1040 Brussels, Belgium (

    The Advocacy Project has developed a new website at: The Advocacy Project is a virtual organization that was created in June 1998 to provide e-mail coverage of the Rome conference on the creation of an international criminal court. Since then it has evolved into a more general effort to help advocates get their message out and to lobby on their behalf with donors. The Advocacy Project has worked with eleven major grassroots campaigns since 1998. Three are profiled on the new website: the coalition of activists who have come together in Nigeria to stop the trafficking of Nigerian women to Europe; the campaign by the Guatemalan indigenous community of Rio Negro to claim compensation for massacres that destroyed the community in 1982; and the struggle by civil society in Kosovo to make its voice heard during Serbian repression and the 1999 ‘invasion’ by humanitarian aid agencies.

    Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement: Annotations, by Walter Kälin has been published by he American Society of International Law and the Brookings Institution Project on Internal Displacement as vol. 32 in Studies in Transnational Legal Policy. These annotations provide the legal basis for the Guiding Principles and are divided into 5 sections: general principles, principles relating to protection from displacement, principles relating to protection during displacement, principles relating to humanitarian assistance, and principles relating to return, resettlement and reintegration. (Available from the American Society of International Law, 2223 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Washington DC 20008-2864 USA) Human Rights Watch has issued a policy document on the occasion of UNHCR’s 50th anniversary entitled 50 years on: what future for refugee protection? The report charts the erosion of refugee protection throughout Western Europe, noting especially visa requirements; carrier sanctions; posting European immigration officials in refugees’ countries of origin; shifting responsibility for refugee protection onto neighbors in Central Europe, where refugees are less protected against forced return to their home countries; and refusing asylum to people who have fled persecution by non-state actors - such as in Algeria - or who have fled situations of generalized civil conflict, such as in Colombia. The document also acknowledges the increasingly precarious security situation within which many countries, such as Tanzania, Guinea and Thailand are hosting refugees. Finally, the document draws attention to the serious funding crisis facing UNHCR and the gross disparity in the international response to the world’s refugee crisis. The background document is available online at:

    Arguing and Justifying: Assessing the Convention Refugees’ Choice of Moment, Motive and Host Country, by Robert F. Barsky addresses the crucial issue of why peole choose to make Convention refugee claims. The book is based on substantial research about which refugees will be permitted to stay in Canada and those who will be deported. He shows that while such decisions are virtually life and death confrontations for the refugee, the vetting procedure is legalistic, ritualized and blind to the reality of those who pass through it. Barsky looks at the different conditions that obtain among African, Pakistani and Peruvian cases and devotes considerable space to citizens of the former Soviet Union.

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